The hugely popular television show Breaking Bad and the Third Reich have one thing in common – both saw an empire of crystal meth. And their respective characters – fictional youngster Jessie Pinkman and real-life dictator Adolf Hitler, although poles apart in other respects, were both drug addicts.
Welcome to German writer Norman Ohler’s book Blitzed.
The book provides a detailed account of how Hitler’s stand against drugs was contradictory. For Pervitin, a German version of methylamphetamine, which is known today as crystal meth, was widely consumed, “just like coffee”, to boost energy levels.
Hitler is believed to have been secretly injected with animal steroids and, later, strong doses of Eukodal, a pharmaceutical cousin of heroin, to keep pain and stress away.
To keep up with the high energy of German soldiers in World War II, the British and American army too started to consume similar drugs, which came to be colloquially known as “speed”.
Drugs have also been used to wage silent wars, as the East India Company did in China, which resulted in the Opium Wars.
In the case of the hippie movement of the 1960s, it was quite the opposite. The youth of the US and the UK rebelled against the establishment through the widespread use of recreational drugs. Hallucinogens like LSD symbolised peace in a time of war and was even a source of inspiration to art and music.
Use of natural and artificial drugs, though, wouldn’t have been possible without scientists. The video above explores a brief history of how drugs were invented and then spread across the world for different reasons.